- E-Verify, the federal system used by some employers to confirm the eligibility of employees to work in the U.S., has reopened following the temporary reopening of the federal government.
- The system had been closed during the 35-day federal shutdown. Now that it's back up, employers have several items to note. Those who participate in E-Verify must create an E-Verify case for every employee hired during the site's closure by Feb. 11, 2019, according to the agency that administers the system. Employees who received a Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC) will be given additional time to contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) or the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to begin the process of resolving the TNC. Also, employers with employees who received TNCs, and notified the employer of their intention to contest a TNC by Feb. 11, must revise the date by which their employees must contact SSA or DHS to begin resolution.
- E-Verify's notice said administrators expect "an increase in requests for assistance," and said users may experience longer than normal delays and response times.
After a deal to open the federal government last Friday with three weeks' worth of funding, federal agencies and associated services that were closed are back on line, including many of those that closely impact employers. That said, this may only be a brief respite, as Trump administration officials have confirmed that the impasse over immigration policy playing out in Washington, D.C. could lead to another spending gap — potentially triggering closures.
And yet it was also immigration that became a highly discussed topic among employment law experts during the shutdown, in no small part due to President Donald Trump's comments on highly skilled immigration. Trump spoke of ensuring U.S. companies had access to the "smartest people in the world" — comments that surprised observers at a time when HR departments await reopening of the H-1B visa petition process. The U.S. Center for Immigration Services (USCIS) announced Monday it had resumed premium processing for Fiscal Year 2019 H-1B petitions, but did not provide updates on proposed changes to the application process for the 2020 fiscal year.
Meanwhile, the government said in its notice that employers were still required to complete and retain Form I-9 documentation for every employee hired during E-Verify's closing, a point the agency previously clarified during the shutdown.
Use of the system is largely voluntary for most employers, save for a few classes of employers required to do so. There are a variety of pros and cons to consider when determining whether to participate in the program. Employers who use E-Verify will need to pay attention to the system's status in the event that officials are unable to fund the government beyond Feb. 15.